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Free Concert

Tasseomancy & Castle If
Sat. Apr 29 7PM
Yorkville Branch, Toronto Public Library 

Last Month's Top Sellers

1. SPOON - Hot Thoughts
2. VIKINGUR OLAFSSON - Philip Glass: Piano Works
3. VALERIE JUNE - The Order Of Time
4. VA - Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present English Weather
5. REAL ESTATE - In Mind

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FEATURED RELEASES

Tuesday
Apr042017

JARVIS COCKER/CHILLY GONZALES - Room 29

"Imagine a piano in a room in the Chateau Marmont, located at the west end of Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Boulevard. What stories might that instrument have been witness to? A musician serenading a lover; the reflected visage of a Hollywood starlet doing lines of cocaine off of the piano’s polished black surface; or the discarded cigarette ash of LA mobsters conducting shady deals. Room 29, a collaborative album from Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales runs with this concept, exploring the debauchery and detachment that occurs within the walls of the famous Sunset Boulevard hotel.

In an attempt to stay true to the concept of a piano telling tales, Room 29 was recorded live with Cocker and Gonzales predominantly performing together without accompaniment. Whilst some tracks do feature additional vocals (such as soprano singer Maud Techa and film historian David Thomson) and instrumentation, this is a rarity, with the focus instead being on the interplay between Cocker’s vocals and Gonzales’ piano. The result is a melancholic, mournful rumination on fading Hollywood glamour, of hangovers filled with regret, broken glass and peeling wallpaper..." The 405

Tuesday
Apr042017

CHARLES HAYWARD/GIGI MASIN - Les Nouvelles Musique De Chambres Vol.2

"Originally released on Belgium’s Sub Rosa label in 1989, Les Nouvelles Musiques De Chambre Volume 2 is a split LP on which Masin’s eight tracks occupy side A and Charles Hayward’s long-form piece (at 21 minutes long), "Thames Water Authority”, occupies side B. Geography may have separated the two artists, who each recorded their pieces in isolation from the other, but there’s a commonality to their approach. Previously, Masin had released the inspired 1986 album Wind, while Hayward’s music had long been influenced by the landscape and society of London and the UK.

For this album, the label challenged the two musicians to write about the waterways of their respective cities, Venice and London. For Masin, that meant describing the human interactions related to the Italian city’s famous landmarks. “Places, faces, memories… that’s what most of the people love to find when they travel to Venice – some kind of magic that’s deep in the city,” he writes in the new liner notes accompanying this new re-release..." Light In The Attic

Saturday
Apr012017

VALERIE JUNE - The Order Of Time

"Tennessee singer-songwriter Valerie June's second full-length album is steeped in old-time country and blues. On opening track "Long Lonely Road," she sings of being taught of "The one way to save your soul," but the songs on The Order of Time offer many paths to enlightenment: love, self-confidence, spirituality and combining all the above.
 
Not to mention music. June seems to take herself seriously as a songwriter, and rightly so; her voice as a songwriter is as sure and distinct as her thickly accented soprano, or the elaborate dreadlocked hairdo that makes her look like a cross between Medusa and Madame de Pompadour. On a track like "Love You Once Made," she's at once mournful and accusatory, feeling the pain of a lost love while uncompromisingly placing the blame. And then she'll write a bluesy, hip-twitching rocker like "Shakedown," which is the kind of song that, if recorded by the likes of Jack White or the Black Keys, would be so popular it'd be inescapable..." - Exclaim

Friday
Mar312017

NICK CAVE - One More Time With Feeling (DVD/Blu-ray)

"...As with life itself, there’s no tidy resolution to be found here—no climactic scene of Cave walking out before a sold-out theater to rip-roar through “From Her To Eternity,” healed at last by the power of music. The closest it comes is letting Cave finally stand up from the piano to conduct his band with just the barest hint of his gunslinger swagger. And like grief, the constant sadness starts to feel repetitive, the elusiveness of a happy denouement frustrating. But anything else wouldn’t have been the truth. One More Time is a complex portrait of a man climbing his way out from tragedy while coming to terms with his own vulnerability—a poignant image, especially in a year where we’ve felt the loss of so many of Cave’s fellow immortals. “They told us our dreams would outlive us / They told us our gods would outlive us, but they lied,” Cave sings near the film’s close, a tune that is as bleak yet beautiful, as heartbreaking yet hopeful as everything that preceded it. Life is not a story, the movie says, but in many ways it is a Nick Cave song." - AV Club

Friday
Mar312017

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER - The French Press

"With their debut 2015 EP, Talk Tight, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever proved to be one of those special bands that arrives seemingly out of nowhere with a fully realized aesthetic. No tentative baby steps or half-formed experiments for this lot; Talk Tight exuded confidence and purpose, yielding five propulsive, jangly pop gems that felt instantly familiar. And its appeal was cross-generational. If you were raised on ’80s college rock, you could revel in nostalgic nods to the Feelies, the Clean, the Go-Betweens, and countless other Velvets revisionists. Younger fans could hear the sort of band the Strokes might have turned into had they aged more gracefully, or imagine what Real Estate might sound like after downing a case of Red Bull.

It’s a trick that (the now abbreviated) Rolling Blackouts C.F. still pull off with great aplomb on follow-up EP The French Press. Its six songs shine just as bright as those on Talk Tight, but they cast longer, darker shadows. You can sense the subtle change in temperament within the first 30 seconds of “French Press,” where the band work a taut motorik build reminiscent of Broken Social Scene’s anxious anthem “Cause = Time.”..." Pitchfork

Friday
Mar312017

VARIOUS - Keb Darge & Cut Chemist Present The Dark Side

"Picking up where they left off on the 2007 compilation ‘Lost & Found – Rockabilly & Jump Blues‘, Keb Darge & Cut Chemist join forces once again, this time to explore the Dark Side of 1960s Garage music. While Rockabilly could be defined as a DIY emulation of the music of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and others by young American artists, Garage was heavily influenced by British bands of the day like the Beatles, Kinks & Rolling Stones. Simple drum kits, guitars and the occasional organ keep the sound honest and raw, retaining a palpable sense of excitement even to this day. With a multitude of bands springing up all over the USA, many of these wonderful records were released in tiny numbers, making certain titles almost impossible to find.

Keb Darge’s love affair with this intriguing genre happened almost by accident, while on the hunt for obscure Northern Soul records. “DJ Shadow told me I would like Garage years ago, but I didn’t listen.” Hearing a few records he liked and being assured by collectors that they were classified as ‘Garage’ got him hooked, so for the last years he’s been digging obsessively for the stuff. Knowing Cut Chemist was a collector, he suggested they collaborate on a compilation, and ‘The Dark Side‘ was born. 30 obscure records, some of which change hands for frightening amounts of money, all with wonderful stories attached as told in Keb’s & Cut Chemist‘s encyclopedic and entertaining liner notes." - BBE 

Friday
Mar172017

THE CREATION - Action Painting

"The Creation were a go. A dynamic band with an equally engaging image, they would burn brightly for less than two years, yet would leave an indelible mark upon music history. With producer du jour Shel Talmy at the helm (The Who, Kinks, Easybeats, Cat Stevens, et al) the Creation went on an incredible two year tear of singles, including “Making Time,” “How Does It Feel To Feel,” “Tom Tom,” and “If I Stay Too Long.” By 1968 it was over. Eddie Phillips’ trademark guitar bowing would be nicked by Jimmy Page and Boney M would cheese-up “Painter Man.” 


Over the nearly five decades since, the Creation has seen a tremendous resurgence in interest. First it was the Jam flossing “Making Time” on the inner sleeve of All Mod Cons. A few years later Alan McGee formed the band Biff Bang Pow and his Creation record label. By the turn of the century a new generation had discovered the band via a strategic placement in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. 

Presented here for the first time are the complete Creation studio recordings. All 42 tracks have been remastered from the original tapes by Shel Talmy, and given fresh stereo mixes where previously unavailable. New essays by Dean Rudland and Alec Palao tell the band’s story and dive into their complete studio sessions. Scores of previously unpublished photographs adorn the accompanying 80 page hard bound book. We’ve rounded the whole package out with four tracks by pre-Creation freakbeat quartet the Mark Four, making Action Painting the definitive collection of this legendary UK band." - Numero

Tuesday
Mar142017

RICHARD LAVIOLETTE - Taking The Long Way Home

"If you’re looking for some music to soothe the soul, look no further than Taking the Long Way Home, the gentle, rollicking new album from Guelph singer-songwriter Richard Laviolette.

Listening to this album is like looking at a collection of time-worn photos from Laviolette’s life, from treasured memories of his childhood home (“Grey Rain”) to tributes to the strong women in his family ("My Grandma's More Punk (Than Most Punks I Know)") to contemplating his own mortality ("Someone to Tell My Story When I'm Gone"). On Taking the Long Way Home, Laviolette presents us with songs that are heart-warming and comforting, but also accompanied by lyrics that are full of raw honesty and wisdom. It’s classic country music full of nostalgia about growing up and ruminations on growing old." - CBC Music

Tuesday
Mar142017

HOLLY MACVE - Golden Eagle

"It’s hard to believe Holly Macve’s Golden Eagle is a debut album. Originally from Galway, Ireland, the 21-year-old singer songwriter exudes the confidence and control you’d expect from a veteran performer.

Holly’s achy inflections evoke country-western styles, a Patsy-Cline-like delivery of heartbreak and longing. Golden Eagle combines haunting imagery with vulnerable contemplation and a retrospective eye. In “No One Has The Answers”, divine and personal uncertainty are set against blue skies and a summer by the sea. The speaker’s desire to understand the world merges with a yearning to escape from it: “I worked by day and by night I drank and danced until my mind was blank/And when the morning came to me, I’d only ever do the same.” Throughout the record, Holly explores the beauty in the detritus, loneliness standing alongside dreamy images of blood-red fields, moonlit lakes, and train-ride fantasies to far-off places..." - Spill Magazine

Tuesday
Mar142017

FRANCOIS COUTURIER & TARKOVSKY QUARTET - Nuit Blanche

"...Impeccably sequenced as usual, Nuit Blanche demonstrates continued growth for Couturier and Tarkovsky Quartet. The music may be dissonant and hard-edged, as it is on the appropriately titled "Vertigo" or similarly dark-hued but more spacious "Traum V" (another spontaneous creation which immediately follows); it might be more direct and immediate in its thematics, as is the pianist's Zen-like title track; or it may employ simple but harmonically oblique arpeggios to support a pointillistic saxophone solo, with Lechner using the body of her cello as a spare percussion instrument, as takes place on Couturier's "Soleil sous la pluie." 

No matter what direction Tarkovsky Quartet takes, the music of Nuit Blanche is largely more suggestive than it is explicit. A finely hued combination of melody and texture, scripted form and unfettered free play, and a distinctive group sound that has nevertheless expanded, album after album, as the quartet has continued to embed more and more touchstones in its music, Nuit Blanche is this exceptional chamber group's finest album to date...and with the trilogy now a quartet, the hopes that Couturier will continue his winning streak with more cinematically inspired work with this wonderful ensemble." - All About Jazz

Tuesday
Mar142017

HIGH PLAINS - Cinderland

"High Plains is the name of a collaboration between Scott Morgan (loscil) and Mark Bridges, an ambient soundscape artist and a classically trained cellist, respectively. It also describes the locale — Saratoga, Wyoming — that they drew influence from, and wrote and recorded in. There are even some field recordings from the area blended in with the cello, piano and electronic textures.
 
This sparse but dirge-like music on their latest full-length, Cinderland, evokes the desolate winters of the Midwestern plains from whence it came, seemingly reminding us of nature's indifference towards humanity. This is not cold, lifeless music, however — quite the opposite. Though subdued and melancholic, there is a personal warmth and intimacy in these soundscapes...
 
...With their sensitive instrumental playing and thoughtful arrangement of textures, High Plains perfectly capture the rugged and sprawling Midwest, but more impressively, an intangible mood and state of mind. A record like this is a rare achievement." - Exclaim

Tuesday
Mar142017

DELANEY & BONNIE - Motel Shot

"Though they never achieved the popular success enjoyed by some of their peers, Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett spearheaded the roots-rock revolution of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s along with The Allman Brothers and The Band, turning away from the exoticism of psychedelia towards music “rooted” in blues, country, and soul. Witness the fact that the “And Friends” that played with the pair included Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Leon Russell, Dave Mason and Bobby Whitlock….out of Delaney and Bonnie’s various aggregations arose Derek and the Dominoes and Joe Cocker’s band for the legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. And for Motel Shot, the duo’s fourth studio album and their third for Atco/Atlantic, the circle of “friends” included Cocker, Whitlock, and Mason, plus appearances by Duane Allman, Gram Parsons, and John Hartford among others! But for the most part, this is a largely acoustic, charmingly informal affair dipped in gospel and dominated by the Bramletts and Whitlock; the Motel Shot title refers to informal, after hours jam sessions on the road. But there’s a whole lot more to the story (and to this release!).

The project began not in a hotel room but in the living room of engineer Bruce Botnick, with November 1970 sessions as a prospective release for Elektra Records. But, after Delaney had a falling out with label head Jac Holzman, the project moved to Atco, who put the “band” into a proper studio to re-record much of the material. Those later sessions comprise the original album, which has heretofore only appeared briefly on CD in Japan; but, after hours of tape research, co-producers Bill Inglot and Pat Thomas uncovered the original “living room” sessions that yielded the eight unreleased tracks on this Expanded Edition CD release – and notably is the first American CD release of the original Motel Shot album as well. Remastered by Inglot, with an essay by Thomas that includes exclusive (and extremely candid) quotes from Bonnie Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock, Bruce Botnick, and Jac Holzman, Motel Shot finally is presented here the way it was originally conceived, and takes its rightful place as one of the great albums of the classic era of the roots rock movement." - Real Gone Music

Tuesday
Feb212017

VA - Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present English Weather

"It’s a pretty motley collection of artists trying out ideas – epic, episodic, orchestral ballads; jazzy piano-led soul-searching with abrasive guitar; ascetic acoustic pop decorated with woodwind – in a brief, directionless period when all bets were off, and before it became clear that early 70s rock would be dominated by prog, glam, West Coast singer-songwriters, and cocaine cowboys advising us to take it easy. Sometimes, the music the compilation alights on feels like a period piece; sometimes, as in the case of Camel’s Never Let Go, it feels weirdly contemporary – perhaps because a mood of pensive uncertainty has very much proved 2017’s thing thus far.

But what’s really arresting about English Weather is how unified and coherent it sounds. How the disparate elements come together and paint a remarkably vivid picture of an era. Everything here is of a really high quality: you wonder how so much of it went unnoticed, and whether it’s because the bar was set high 40-odd years ago, or because the compilers are adept at finding the one great track on otherwise unremarkable albums. Everything is shot through with the same autumnal melancholy. Everything sounds incredibly British, up to and including a minor psych-pop band called Orange Bicycle attempting to stave off the inevitable by copying the contemporary sounds emanating from LA. It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to still sound redolent of the London suburbs on a drizzly October day while singing about heading down the Oakland turnpike in the intricate harmony vocal style of Crosby, Stills and Nash, but somehow they managed it." - The Guardian

Tuesday
Feb212017

BING & RUTH - No Home Of The Mind

"For David Moore, the piano was always most important. As a student at the New School’s contemporary music department, Moore spun the measured minimalism of his solo piano pieces into grander ensemble works as his project, Bing & Ruth, slowly spread in scope. Influenced by composers like Thomas Newman and Sergei Prokofiev, the act wove Moore’s meditative piano lines into seismic spectacles of ambient maximalism, swinging between awe-striking resplendence and a softer, filmic sensitivity that delighted in near-silent echoes.

As the project continued, the group moved from an eleven-person ensemble to a tighter seven-person unit. On their latest, No Home of the Mind, the group is further reduced to five. Composed on seventeen pianos across North America and Europe and recorded in a church in upstate New York, the pieces work to leverage the bright hues and tinny contrast of each instrument into absorbing soundscapes. Leaning in on the weighty action of each piano key or the rolling motion of the sustain pedal, the tracks embrace the affective mechanics of each instrument, turning the familiar ticks of the home piano into new “Eureka!” moments from track to track..." - SPIN

Tuesday
Feb212017

THE COURTNEYS - II

"Both feel-good and charmingly gritty, the Courtneys' sophomore album is a succinct followup to their 2013 self-titled debut. Hooky riffs, brawny bass, and drummer/lead singer Jen Twynn Payne's satisfyingly sweet vocals — the band's best bits — are right at the forefront throughout the effort, starting with opener "Silver Velvet." On "Iron Deficiency" and "Mars Attacks," the group demonstrate their knack for harmony, incorporating it just enough to add a divine contrast to the pummelling percussion of the former and woozy guitar of the latter.  
 
"Tour," with its buzzy, sunny melody, is pop perfection and one of the album's standouts, with dynamic vocals that accompany sing-along lines like, "What you are and what you wanna be, takes a long, long, long, long time." Sincere lyrics, through which the girls reach inward to reflect upon topics like heartache and crushes, add substance to the album's vivid sonic exterior, as well as wonderfully tongue-in-cheek cuts like "Lost Boys" — a 2014 single that nods to the '80s vampire cult classic.
 
By polishing up their best assets and sticking them front and centre, the Courtneys demonstrate how much they've grown artistically over the last four years. Well-crafted and delightfully infectious, The Courtneys II is a sequel that surpasses their already-great original." - Exclaim

Tuesday
Feb212017

JESCA HOOP - Memories Are Now

"Jesca Hoop first attracted national attention in the early '00s, when her unusual backstory — the daughter of musical Mormons, she'd served a long stint as nanny to Tom Waits' kids — helped fuel critics' interest in songs that always seemed to be coming at you sideways. Albums like Hunting My Dress and The House That Jack Built, both of which hold up incredibly well, left Hoop constantly on the verge of a major breakthrough that never quite materialized.

Last year, though, she got a big lift in the form of Love Letter For Fire, an album-length collaboration with Iron And Wine's Sam Beam. In addition to reaching a new audience — and, in the process, finding her a new label home — that record found ways to highlight Hoop's idiosyncratic songwriting voice, as well as her gift for distinct phrasing. She keeps Love Letter For Fire's momentum alive with Memories Are Now, a nine-song collection that further showcases Hoop's enviable capacity to surprise.

Take the voices she brings to Memories Are Now's title track: The song could just as easily be the work of a sister act like Lily & Madeleine, Joseph or First Aid Kit — the kind of group where impeccable voices weave in and out, complementing each other with improbable precision — but it's just a showcase for Hoop, whose voice sounds alternately soaring, breathy, wearily assertive and, in the backing vocals, downright heavenly. (Later, at moments in "Simon Says," her layered voices conjure images of a salty/sweet country duo.) In both content and construction, Jesca Hoop's songs practically burst with ideas: They're as strange and smart and heartfelt as they are gorgeous, and that's saying something." - NPR

Friday
Feb102017

MAX RICHTER - Three Worlds: Music From Wolff Works

The mood ranges from gorgeously lush (“In the Garden”) to somber (“War anthem”) to devastatingly aching (“Tuesday”).  Once the album has been played, that final extended track looms over the entire enterprise like a cloud whose rain has already begun to fall, but has not yet hit the earth.  For those unfamiliar with her story, Woolf penned a final, crushing note to her beloved husband, then drowned herself by walking into a river, weighed down by a large stone in her coat.  As Gillian Anderson reads the note, one can’t help but protest, “No!”, to somehow stop, or even pause, what has already occurred.  And yet, and yet, and yet …

Richter’s victory is to provide a soundtrack to Woolf’s life, and even deeper, her heart.  Her moments of joy are fleeting, but identifiable.  Her moments of depression contain their own apologetic beauty.  Even her suicide note was examined as a work of art, by Woolf’s own words a paltry piece of writing.  The music struggles with thoughts of grace given to sorrow, as the act so painful to others has been remembered with forgiveness.  “Memory is the seamstress, and a capricious one at that.” - A Closer Listen

Friday
Feb102017

VIKINGUR OLAFSSON - Philip Glass: Piano Works

"The piano etudes of Philip Glass were, like 19th century examples of the form, technical studies. Glass, in fact, wrote them over two decades as a way of improving his own piano skills. Yet they are also, like Chopin's etudes, little compositional studies that establish a set of parameters and explore it in a basic way. They offer an excellent way to come to grips with Glass' musical language, and they reveal the personalities of their performers more than do most of his other compositions. Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson emerged to acclaim as part of a joint recital of all 20 etudes in at the Barbican in London, and his work here fulfills the promise shown. After an overture from Glassworks (1981), Ólafsson launches into a sequence of 11 etudes. He doesn't follow the original ordering, but this is all to the good: the Glass etudes are self-contained pieces, and his progression is convincing. Ólafsson's touch is light, sweeping, dreamy, and evocative of the mystical side of the composer's personality. He catches the logic of each etude as it unfolds the implications of the very simple material with which it begins...This is a very fine Glass recording, beautifully engineered in an Icelandic hall." - All Music Guide

Sunday
Feb052017

THE BATS - The Deep Set

"Some bands change their sound like the planet changes seasons — whether through restlessness or to latch onto prevailing trends — whereas others choose to stay the course with their original style, dispatching new missives based on already familiar foundations.

Christchurch-bred purveyors of the fabled Dunedin Sound are firmly in the latter camp: now into their third decade with the original line-up, the four-piece have racked up nine albums characterised by chugging chords, jangly guitars and the charming, simplistic worldview of guitarist/vocalist Robert Scott (also bassist for Flying Nun staples The Clean). This shared experience has gifted the foursome a clear simpatico and inherent indie-pop smarts, and on The Deep Set Scott's songs prove as effortlessly dreamy as ever. His innate sense of melody extends to both the arrangements and his bittersweet vocal delivery, the tunes augmented by shimmering harmonies and classy string accompaniment, while guitarist Kaye Woodward's lead parts twist and meander, dripping with expression. The album opens with the melancholic Rooftops but quickly blossoms with the upbeat Looking For Sunshine and the luminous Rock And Pillars, while No Trace explores personal themes atop beautiful vocal melodies and strings carry the dreamy slice of nostalgia and longing that is lead single Antlers. Towards the back end Shut Your Eyes is darker and more foreboding, The Bats proving once again that simple, well-executed ideas and arrangements are entirely capable of triggering complex responses." - The Music

Friday
Feb032017

ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD - Tourist In This Town

The first minute of Alabama singer-songwriter Allison Crutchfield’s debut album is sung a cappella. It’s an intimate experience, hearing her multitracked voice without accompaniment, and when the band kicks in it’s quite a surprise – not least because the dominant sound is 80s analogue synthesisers, a specialty of producer Jeff Zeigler. There are cooing backing vocals, buzzsaw new-wave guitars and one-finger synth patterns. Crutchfield’s lyrics are conversational and literate, like those of Eleanor Friedberger or Courtney Barnett. But in contrast to the comfortable retrofitted backdrop and her voice, prettified by Bangles-style harmonies, Crutchfield’s lyrics are not all sweetness and light. Tourist in This Town is a break-up album: there’s a lot of getting upset in hotel rooms (Mile Away) and not being able to enjoy being in a nice place because of relationship upsets and “bodies in the basement” (Sightseeing). Still, it’s not a hard listen: songs such as Secret Lives and Deaths and I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California are uplifting pop confections. - The Guardian